Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Choosing a Dissertation Topic

Someone recently asked me to blog about the process of selecting a dissertation topic.

Selecting a dissertation topic is like choosing a PhD program. You want to select a topic that is the right fit for you. Your topic should be:
  1. Interesting to you
  2. Manageable (something that you can actually complete)
  3. Relevant to your field
My first dissertation topic idea focused on the Leadership Certificate Program that I was developing for John F. Kennedy University in the Bay Area. Due to budgetary reasons, this certificate program did not come to fruition so I had to come up with another topic idea.

The topic that I ended up selecting for my dissertation was the best fit for me because it related to the research studies that I had completed while working in the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research.

In the first semester of my PhD program I completed a literature review, titled: "How to measure the community impact of nonprofit graduate students' service-learning projects." The literature review set the stage for an extensive qualitative research study that I completed during the 2nd year of my PhD program. I interviewed 19 nonprofit organizations to determine the impact and use of master's students' applied projects. After I completed the local study, I wanted to study impact and use of experiential education within nonprofit organizations at a national level.

I originally planned to complete a much more extensive study of experiential education and its impact on the nonprofit community (isn't this always the case with dissertations?!?) but my dissertation committee helped me get back into reality. I honed my dissertation topic into a study that was much more manageable and something that I could complete!

No comments: